His Instagram bio says Eliot Scott. SCI C1-C4 EDS, Chiari, Craniocervical Fusion & Tethered Cord. Release April 2021. Wheelchair user. Nuerodiverse. Queer Nerd.
He also has a connective tissue disorder and celiac disease. Plus sleep apnea and some kind of heart thing. I’m pretty sure I’m forgetting something. Oh, and he doesn’t eat sugar. Eliot is sick. He’s not someone with a disability, he is the disability. Being sick is literally part of who he’s become, it’s who he is.
We used to live across the hall from each other at Milepost 5. I used his wifi in exchange for walking his dog on Sundays. One summer when it was unbearably hot we fashioned an air conditioner for him out of a styrofoam cooler, a fan, some regular ice and a chunk of dry ice. Well I fashioned it, Eliot just gave suggestions from bed where he had been confined for the past almost 2 years. We felt very scientific.
He had been waiting to see some special neurosurgeon who was the only person in the world who could fix his neck and now he was in New York healing from two major spine surgeries that would eventually allow him to walk again. His parents live in Connecticut but had basically abandoned him as he was about to get out of the hospital after a two month stay. He found an apartment in Manhattan just blocks from where he would be going to outpatient physical therapy but he needed someone to live with and take care of him until he could get his insurance to cover a health care aid for 12 hours a day. I had known Eliot for over a year and had often answered his call for help when a care worker from some agency didn’t show up. Now he was texting me asking if I wanted to come live a block away from Central Park for a couple of months. Maybe longer. I would be there to take care of his basic needs. To dress and undress him. To help him bathe and shit and piss. To cook for him to clean up after him. To let his dog sleep with me and take her for walks and pick up her shit. I said I could commit to two months.
I don’t even remember what I expected it to be like, it all happened so fast. All I knew was that Eliot had said he could pay more of the rent if I helped with his care when he was released from the hospital. I didn’t know if I would be getting paid and I had no idea how much rent was in New York City. The pandemic had turned everything upside down. I lost my job as a nanny to a little girl who was just turning four. I had known her since she was 7 months old. Her parents had stopped communicating with me and I had no idea if I would go back to work for them again or if I would ever see Josie again. I had just fallen out of an odd relationship with an artist 25 years older than me. His name was Mike and he was barely hanging on to being married for 20 years. He was the only person I interacted with in the same physical space at the beginning of Covid. We couldn’t touch or be too near one another but we made banners and images to project and came up with brilliant ideas to change the world inside of a huge empty warehouse. At night we had sex with each other texting back and forth from our separate bedrooms across town. After part of a year of that he of course had to drop out and go figure out what he was doing with his life. I was still broken hearted.
The summer of the George Floyd protests had passed and I wasn’t really making any art anymore. I lived in an affordable housing shithole building for artists except it was more like living in a halfway house. I was collecting unemployment and had quit paying my rent.
I had been in the same place for so long it had become to seem like it was impossible to move beyond the borders of the space this town took up in my mind. So on May 27th 2021 I hopped on a jet plane with my black cat Pirate and flew to New York City. I was there for 72 days. Whenever someone asks me how it was I can’t help but take a deep breath and say “It was a lot of things.”